Christopher Green as Ida Barr at Wilton’s Music Hall: Review by Stephen Vowles

Christopher Green’s homage to the real Ida Barr is based upon his principle of what would she be doing now if she was still alive and it came to him in a flash of inspiration: she would be blending old time musical hall numbers that she made famous with hip hop. So his wonderful show Artificial Hip Hop came into being. Known as the people’s pensioner, this is a pure hoot, culture personified. The original Barr most probably graced the stage of the Wilton’s Music Hall in her heyday. Green embraces his creation with a great deal of respect, and as an astute professional never falters.

Typical of the day the innuendo is still there, songs such as “I had a little thrush but gave it away”. He wanted the audience to sing along and they gladly did. Where else would we get a mash up of “If you were the only girl in the world” with Rhianna? Marie Lloyd with Eminem? Blake’s Jerusalem with Nicki Minaj? This Pearly Queen had great command of the stage and the over exaggerated gestures and curtsies added to the charm of the show. Political observation and social commentary also formed part of the act as Barr remembered the war years via a rather splendid rendition of Noel Coward’s London Pride complete with a video backdrop that unashamedly increased the power and the effect of the number.

The real life Ida Barr

Gloriously crude and clever. Green as Barr is a true master of his craft. Stunning in its simplicity, this is a show performed by a very special talent. His repeating of the word ‘Smashing!’ throughout the show, obviously a word the original Barr used, summed up the character and the show.


Ida Barr’s Artificial Hip Hop was at Wilton’s Music Hall on 24th August, 1 Graces Alley, Whitechapel E1.

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